Wednesday, October 5, 2022

Southlake’s Municipal Court Has a New Clerk of the Court

The Southlake City Council appointed Jodi Bolton the Municipal Clerk of the Court at the September 20, 2022, City Council meeting.

Jodi has worked for the City of Southlake in the Municipal Court division since December 2006. She has been certified as a Level 2 Municipal Court Clerk by the Texas Municipal Court Education Center and was previously in the Court Supervisor position.

With this new role, Jodi will be the custodian of all court records, oversee the daily operations and scheduling of the Court, and work closely with the Presiding Judge, Carol Montgomery. She also manages the Teen Court Supervisor, who oversees the Metroport Teen Court Program, a multi-city program housed here in Southlake.

Metroport Teen Court

Metroport Teen Court is a volunteer program that provides teens in middle and high school an alternative to the criminal justice system while allowing them to assume responsibility for their actions by participating in the judicial process and completing community service hours.

The program was established over 20 years ago and is one of the City’s most successful partnerships. The cities of Southlake, Grapevine, Colleyville, and Keller participate. Each city signs a yearly interlocal agreement that funds and authorizes the program. The agreement also establishes the 12-member Teen Court Advisory Board. The Board consists of one City Council Member from each participating City and two council-appointed citizens from those cities. It meets five times yearly, advising the Teen Court Staff and acting as a liaison between the program and each community.

For a teen going through the program, completion of their obligations allows them not to have an offense recorded as a conviction on their record. More than 15,000 community service hours are completed each year

Southlake Municipal Court

The Southlake Municipal Court was established as a Court of Record in 1990 with the passing of a City Ordinance. Under Texas Government Code 30, there are established requirements for a court of record, one being that the City must appoint a clerk to be the record keeper of those criminal records.

With the appointment of Jodi Bolton as the Municipal Court Clerk and the continued partnership of Metroport Teen Court, the Municipal Court and Teen Court divisions will continue their hard work both in and out of the courtroom.

Southlake Municipal Court Alternate Judge Gary Lee Hach Passes Away

The City of Southlake joins the family and friends of Southlake Municipal Court Alternate Judge Gary Hach in mourning his passing. Judge Hach died following a hard-fought battle with cancer.

Judge Hach was initially appointed as an Alternate Judge in January 2003 for a two-year term. He was then re-appointed seven additional times, serving in the position for seventeen years.

He earned a bachelor’s degree in civil engineering from the University of Texas at Arlington in 1988 and a Doctorate of Jurisprudence from Southern Methodist University in 1990.  He also was a practicing attorney with an active law practice that specialized in civil, construction and real estate litigation in state, federal and bankruptcy courts.

Judge Hach was originally from Kansas. He was married to his wife, Missy, for 25 years and was the proud father of two daughters.

“We are so sad to hear of Judge Hach’s loss,” said Mayor Laura Hill.  “He dedicated his life to the law and his family; the Southlake community will miss him greatly.”

“I worked with Gary years ago when our clients were on the same side of a case. He was a great lawyer and we became friends,” said Mayor Pro-Tem Shawn McCaskill. “He truly enjoyed his time as part of our municipal court. I am so sad that we’ve lost him.”

“The community of Southlake lost more than an excellent jurist this week; we lost an outstanding citizen, a loving husband to Missy and father to his two daughters, and to all who called him colleague, we lost a good friend,” said Southlake Municipal Judge Carol Montgomery.

She added, “Gary served with compassion and integrity as Southlake’s Associate Municipal Court Judge for 17 years.  He was known for his “long” dockets because he always took the time to speak to everyone at length about their case before rendering judgment. He was a champion of the underdog and a friend to all that knew him. We will miss his humor and dry wit, but mostly we will just miss our friend.”

The family will receive friends from 6 to 8 p.m., Thursday, August 27, 2020, at Keller’s Old Town Funeral Home. The funeral service takes place at 2 p.m., Friday, August 28, 2020, at Keller’s Old Town Funeral Chapel, 2020 Keller Parkway, Keller, Texas. The service will also be live-streamed. Visit this link for more information: https://bit.ly/31s15Yd.

 

Judge Carol Montgomery Re-appointed to Southlake Municipal Court

On June 16, 2020, Carol Montgomery was re-appointed by the City Council as the Presiding Judge for the Southlake Municipal Court. She has been re-appointed as the presiding Judge in Southlake every two years since 2001.

In addition to Southlake, she has presided over the Burleson Municipal Court from 2008 to 2010 and was an associate judge for the City of Arlington from 1998 to 2000. As a Municipal Court judge, she is also a Magistrate for Tarrant County. Before coming to Southlake, she was an Assistant Criminal District Attorney for Tarrant and Bexar Counties. She holds a Doctorate of Jurisprudence from St. Mary’s School of Law and a Bachelor’s degree from Stephen F. Austin State University.

Municipal Court Judges hold essential roles in the Texas judicial system. There are over 900 municipal courts in the State. In 2019, those courts saw over five million criminal cases and just over 575,000 civil cases, which result in more people coming into Municipal Courts than all other courts in Texas combined. Re-appointing a judge with experience, allows the court to maintain stability in the face of change.

However, Judge Montgomery is no stranger to change. Every two years, the Municipal Court makes adjustments based on laws passed in the State Legislature. In 2011, the court adopted a paper-lite system which required the judge to utilize an electronic case management database rather than the physical files used in prior years.

Now in 2020, with the onset of COVID-19, the court moved swiftly to implement Virtual Court, allowing defendants to have a virtual hearing with the judge to satisfy mandatory and requested court appearances. During this time, the judge quickly approved administrative changes that provided defendants more ways to satisfy appearances and judgments electronically for their citations.

When asked what her time with the City has meant to her over the years, Judge Montgomery said, “The City has changed in so many ways, but the one constant is the people…I have made life-long friendships, and I have had the honor to work with some of the most dedicated and hardworking people.”

“In the nearly two decades of service as the Presiding Judge, Carol Montgomery has provided a necessary balance of adaptability and stability for the City,” said Mayor Laura Hill. “She helps the Municipal Court maintain a high standard of excellence among the Texas municipal courts.”